Grand Bassa County Superintendent has blamed concession companies operating in the country of being responsible for most of the conflicts that erupt in concession affected communities.
Superintendent Janjay Baikpeh, who spoke at the ongoing 3rd Annual National Multi Stakeholders conference in Ganta, Nimba County on September 30, 2019, said the concession companies always disregard local authorities by excluding them from most of their decisions.
He said that the only time the companies recognize the local authorities is when there is a program that needs the locals’ involvement.
Baikpeh, who spoke on behalf of superintendents representing the affected counties, stressed the need for concession companies to work more closely with local government to alleviate some of the potential conflicts in the affected communities.
He added that despite the signing of concession agreements with government, there are some corporate social responsibilities that some of the companies should undertake in consultation with the local authorities to ease growing tension in demand of development.
Mr. Baikpeh also stressed the need to give preference to some of the locals from the affected communities in their employment as a means of solidifying the relationship with those living in the affected areas.
“Why will a concession company operating in the community bring nearly all their staffs from different locality as if to say there are no qualified residents of the affected county?” he queried.
The conference, which was held under the theme, “Strengthening Conflict Prevention via the Establishment of Multi-Stakeholders Platforms and Improved Alternative Livelihoods for Sustainable Concession Affected Communities,” brought together about 16 MSPs from the concession affected counties.
The Multi-Stakeholder Platforms (MSPs), are a group of local people within the concession affected communities that are trained to mediate and maintain harmony between the concession companies and residents of the affected communities.
In his opening statement, the head of the National Bureau of Concessions, Gregory O. W. Coleman, highlighted the significance of peace within the concession areas, through the involvement of MSPs.
Coleman buttressed Supt. Baikpeh’s call for concessionaires to consider the employment for residents in the concession affected communities as a means to reduce tension. He then called on the residents to remember the maxim which says “Liberia is for all Liberians, and with equal rights to work everywhere.”
Therefore, he said, employment should include all Liberians, but preference should be given to those from the affected communities.